Vanity by Jean-Jacques de Boissieu (1736-1810)
Jean-Jacques De Boissieu attained incredible success in France as well as abroad, and is undeniably one of the most talented drawing and etching artists of the 18th century. Humbly nicknamed the French Rembrandt, Jean-Jacques De Boissieu was able to infuse his compositions with such realism that he was equated with the greatest masters.
Born in Lyon in 1736, Jean-Jacques De Boissieu becomes a student of Charles Frontier, and starts drawing after nature in 1759. In 1761, he travels to Paris where he remains for three years, a move that immensely impacted his work. There, he meets Vernet, Watelet, as well as Jean-Baptiste Greuze. With the support of his new friend, Alexandre de la Rochefoucauld, De Boissieu tours Italy and visits Genoa, Naples and Rome, studying the masters, all the while producing art based on nature. He returns to Lyon and starts a workshop that quickly becomes the must-see rendez-vous for personalities and collectors visiting the area.
His work significantly circulates during the artist lifetime, thereby promptly seducing the most knowledgeable collectors, while validating the presence of numerous examples of his work in the most prestigious public collections. His drawings and etchings among others are visible in the Louvre Museum, the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Lyon, the Morgan Library or the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as in the National Gallery of Art in Washington.
While his work mostly involves landscapes from the Lyon area or from Italy, portraits or genre scenes, our drawing is an exception to this list. Its quality, depth, power and uniqueness undoubtedly qualify it as masterpiece among De Boissieu’s production.